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Ozone layer depletion: Cause, effects, and solutions

On World Ozone Day, have a look at the various causes, effects and solutions of ozone layer depletion

Ozone impact | Ozone Hole | World Ozone Day

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

World Day

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Day is observed on September 16 every year to spread awareness among people about the depletion of Layer. This year the slogan for is 'Ozone For Life'.

Ozone Layer Depletion

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The Ozone layer reduces harmful UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface. The Ozone layer is present in Earth’s atmosphere (15-35km above Earth) in the lower portion of the stratosphere and has relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3). Ozone layer depletion is the gradual thinning of the earth’s ozone layer present in the upper atmosphere. Ozone depletion also consists of a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone around Earth's polar regions, which is referred to as the .

Cause of ozone depletion

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The main cause of ozone depletion and the is manufactured chemicals, especially manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam- blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, halons). Since the early 1970's, scientists observed reduction in stratospheric ozone and it was found more prominent in Polar Regions. ODS substances have a lifetime of about 100 years.

Effects Of Ozone Layer Depletion

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The depletion of the ozone layer has harmful effects on the human health, animals, environment and marine life. Studies demonstrate that an increase in UV-B rays causes a higher risk of skin cancer, plays a major role in malignant melanoma development, sunburns, quick ageing, eye cataracts, blindness and weekend immune system. Direct exposure to ultraviolet radiations also leads to skin and eye cancer in animals. UV-B rays negatively affect plants, crops. It may lead to minimal plant growth, smaller leaf size, flowering and photosynthesis in plants, lower quality crops for humans. And decline in plant productivity would in turn affect soil erosion and the carbon cycle. Planktons and zooplankton are greatly affected by the exposure to UV-B rays.

These are higher in the aquatic food chain. If the planktons declines, it would likely have wide-reaching effects for all marine life in the lower food chain.

Solutions to Ozone Layer Depletion

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Montreal Protocol was proposed in 1987 to unite the world to cut out production and import of ozone-depleting substances. The Montreal Protocol phases down the consumption and production of the different ozone depleting substances (ODS) in a step-wise manner, with different timetables for developed and developing countries. Every individual should also take steps to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer. One should avoid using pesticides and shift to natural methods to get rid of pests instead of using chemicals. The vehicles emit a large amount of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming as well as ozone depletion. Therefore, the use of vehicles should be minimized as much as possible. Most of the cleaning products have chemicals that affect the ozone layer. We should substitut that with eco-friendly products. Maintain air conditioners, as their malfunctions cause CFC to escape into the atmosphere.

First Published: Wed, September 16 2020. 19:08 IST